There is a perception that winning the lottery changes a person’s life for the better. But facts do not support this claim. Many lottery winners have lost their winnings and ruined their life because of bad financial and personal decisions.
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Lottery Winners Who Lost It All
It is hard to imagine that a person’s life can turn a bad turn after winning such a great fortune. But winning millions has ruined people’s lives. Here are some of the most heartbreaking and devastating stories of lottery winners.
11. Gerald Muswagon
Gerald Muswagon, a Canadian citizen, became an instant millionaire after buying a $2 lotto ticket in 2011. He was able to win $10 million but failed to keep track of his finances. All the money was lost within a few years. He invested in a house which was a popular spot for hosting night parties. He spent relentlessly on gifts parties, cars and also got entangled in several legal battles.
Muswagon blew off all his cash and in the end was working on a farm, doing manual labor to support his six children and girlfriend. He could not take the pressure of financial troubles after his big win and hung himself in his parent’s garage.
10. Sharon Tirabassi
Sharon Tirabassi got lucky in 2004and won $10.5 million in Lotto Super 7 jackpot. She gave her life an extreme makeover. The excessive spending resulted in draining her winnings quickly. She spent excessively on houses, vacations, and cars.
Tirabassi had spent all of her winnings by 2013 and was working a part-time job to support her children. She had to take the bus to her job as it was all she could afford by then.
09. Keith Gough
The 58-year old former baker won an equivalent of almost $11 million in 2010. His life was pretty stable before the win, and after winning a million his life became chaotic. He delved deep into luxuries such as exotic cars, stadium box seats, and fancy cars.
The lottery did not bring any good luck and proved disastrous as his 25-year marriage ended. His trouble made him depressed, and he met a sad end. In 2010 he was penniless and alone, and he became so depressed that he drank himself to death.
08. Alex Toth
Alex Toth got his lucky break in 1990 when he won $13 million in the Florida lottery. He failed to make good investment decisions and went broke even after winning millions. With the increase in financial troubles, his personal life also fell apart.
He split up with his wife. He also got into legal trouble by filing false tax returns. Toth also suffered mentally and spent some time in a mental institution. In 2008, he died at the age of 60.
07. Michael Carroll
At the age of 19, Carroll was working as a sanitation worker in England. His life changed overnight when he won $9.7 million. The value of the money was equivalent to about $14.4 million. But his money was gone quickly because of drugs and excessive spending on gold jewelry and mansions. He also went to prison a few times. All his money was gone within ten years.
Carroll was broke by 2012 and was getting by with unemployment checks. He later became employed at a cookie factory and was making $300 a week. His most recent employment was at a slaughterhouse where he was making about $511.
He said that he was grateful for a second chance at life. He is happy that he is out of jail, sober, and able to spend some quality time with his daughter.
06. William Post
William Post won the Pennsylvania lottery in 1988. His winnings were $16.2 million and he thought all of his financial troubles were in the past. But he soon found himself in debt. He made bad financial decisions like buying a plane even though he did not know how to fly.
He also tried helping his siblings start a used-car and restaurant business.
His ex-girlfriend and landlady sued him claiming one-third of his winnings. Due to her appeal, a judge froze all his assets. Post’s relationship with his relatives also became sour. There was a rumor that his brother even hired an assassin to kill him. William Post opened fire on a repossessing man when he came to take his car away. He was jailed for his actions. He lost all his money and lived off social security disability payments and passed away at the age of 66.
05. Janite Lee
Janite Lee, a South Korean immigrant, won the Illinois lottery in 1993. She won $18 million, and only eight years after her win she filed for bankruptcy. She had a debt of$2.5 million, and there was $700 in her bank account.
Lee failed to manage her finances after the win. Although her donations were well-intended, she gave up more than she could afford. She donated a lot of money to social, educational, and political causes. She paid for the new Washington University.
To save herself from bankruptcy she decided to give up her rights to any future annual payments and got a lump sum. It did not help her financial situation and saved her from bankruptcy. She also had a gambling habit, and it cost her more than $300,000 annually. All of their money was gone by 2001.
04. James Hayes
James Hayes was an overnight security guard in 1998. His life changed when he won $19 million. He won it by playing the California Super Lotto game. His wife took half of his winnings, and Hayes became addicted to heroin. He was spending $1000 on the drug weekly.
To maintain the lavish lifestyle he started robbing banks. The FBI gave him the nickname “Seasoned Bandit” and “PT Cruiser Bandit”. He pleaded guilty to the charge. In 2018 he was given a sentence of 33 months. By that time he had squandered all of his winnings.
03. David Lee Edwards
David Lee Edwards was completely broke five years after winning the jackpot. He married a woman who was nineteen years younger than him. Together they indulged in a lavish lifestyle and blew through $3 million in the first three months. They spent money on a plane, a big mansion, and a dozen luxury cars. After a year of their winning, they had squandered $12 million.
They became drug addicts, and 12 years after winning big they had lost everything, and the house was lost to foreclosure. David spent the last days of his life in a hospice care facility and died at 58. His wife was arrested for stabbing a boyfriend a few years later.
02. Billie Bob Harrell Jr.
Harrell Jr.’s name is mentioned a lot with the lottery curse. In 1997 he won the Texas Lotto jackpot and won huge. But he squandered $31 million within two years. He belonged to a religious family and Harrell Jr. donated heavily to the church along with individual congregation members. But he was spending on other things as well. He along with his wife bought a few expensive cars and houses. They were living a luxurious life and also went on costly trips to Hawaii.
The excessive spending soon brought financial troubles and their winnings dried up. Harrell Jr.’s personal life also started falling apart. He got divorced. He was found dead by his son two years after winning the lottery.
01. Jack Whitaker
Jake Whitaker was financially well-established before winning the lottery. His company was making about $15 million annually. He became the lucky winner to win the largest jackpot ever given to a single Powerball ticket.
He got $113 million in a lump-sum payment. His life changed a lot after the win. He donated his money for building churches in West Virginia. He established a charitable foundation and bought a new house for the woman who gave him the ticket.
His company faced many lawsuits. Although most of them were frivolous they caused a lot of legal trouble for his company and cost millions in the legal fee. He came under too much pressure and he started drinking hard and became violent.
To add to his woes, his granddaughter got involved with shady people and died from an overdose. Seven years after winning the lottery his granddaughter’s mother was also found dead. His wife filed for divorce. He lost his family and money.
Winning the lottery is a big financial win, but it does not always bring good fortune for people. Instead of making their life better, it brings a lot of trouble in their lives and sometimes even ruins them completely. The stories shared above are a perfect example of how winning millions cannot make one’s life content.
But spending and investing wisely can work for a long run. Wanna try your luck?
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